boy jumping on trampolines at Better Extreme Waltham Forest

Review: Better Extreme Trampoline Park & Soft Play, Waltham Forest

“Mummy this is really, really, really, really cool!”

boy jumping on trampolines at Better Extreme Waltham Forest

It’s fair to say that the tramplolines at Better Extreme in Walthamstow got a big thumbs up from my 4 year old. He loved it so much he’s been asking to go back ever since and we’re planning to go again very soon. At first he was skeptical when I told him we’d be visiting a new play centre as he’s pretty attached to the ones we already go to, but the promise of lots of trampolines all linked together was enough to persuade him.

The Better Extreme facilities at the Waltham Forest Feel Good Centre have only been open since October 2016 which probably explains why I hadn’t heard of them until we were invited to visit and try out the trampolines and soft play. I have to say, I was really impressed when we arrived as the new centre is huge, very modern, clean and has excellent facilities (more on that later).

They run a Soft Play and Tots Tramp session for children under 5 years old every Monday and Wednesday at 10am – 1pm and this gives you access to a soft play area which is especially for under 5s and the trampolines. You receive a wristband and have access to the soft play and trampolines for 60 minutes. It’s worth noting that under 5s are not normally allowed on the trampolines at other times when it is being used by older children. We headed to the soft play area first, it is in its own room which makes it nice and secure as the little ones can’t run off. Bonus.

Under 5s Soft Play Centre Feel Better Centre Waltham Forest

There’s also some tables and chairs you can sit at and (hopefully) enjoy a coffee for five minutes while they burn off some energy (the cafe is just outside). There’s also a large toilet with baby changing facilities in the room too which is very handy.

boys in soft play Feel Better Centre Waltham Forest

There are three levels to explore and my 1 year old loved the ball pit and colour-changing lights on the ground floor while the 4 year old loved racing up to the top of the play structure. It’s not massive but it has plenty to amuse a 4 year old for an hour or two.

Boy in Under 5s Soft Play Centre Feel Better Centre Waltham Forest

We were there on a Wednesday around midday and although there were a few children in there when we first arrived, we soon had the place to ourselves. This makes a nice change from the noisy, busy soft play centres we usually go to.

boy looking at trampolines Boy at Better Extreme Waltham Forest

I had to drag my son away to get him to come and try out the trampolines which are in the Extreme Park bit of the centre. Before you enter you have to sign some forms and get your special trampolining socks which are £2 but you can keep them and use them again. We were told that we would have to watch a safety video before we were allowed to use the equipment but it was only afterwards that I realised we had never actually watched this, so I’m not sure at what point that was supposed to happen. Once inside, again it was very quiet with only a couple of other children which meant we had most of it to ourselves.  There are 23 floor trampolines and 11 wall ones which are all joined together and my son loved being able to bounce from one trampoline to the next. It was great fun and proved quite a workout for all of us.

Baby boy on trampoline at Better Extreme Waltham Forest

My one year old loved it as well and found the whole thing hilarious, giggling the entire time. Our time seemed up all too soon and my son would definitely have stayed on longer. Luckily, there’s a great little cafe in the centre just next to the trampolines so we stayed and had lunch as it certainly works up an appetite. Like most parents, I’m worried about the fact that my son would often rather be playing with some sort of screen (yes, already!! Urgh!) so I loved the fact that he was getting lots of exercise and enjoying himself at the same a time.

Better Extreme at Feel Better Centre Waltham Forest

The Better Extreme section of the centre also has some other amazing facilities which we had a quick look at although they weren’t open at the time. There’s an ‘Extreme’ 4 storey soft play section for children over 5 which looks great and I love the fact that it is entirely separate from the soft play for the little ones. As other mums will know, it’s really frustrating when older children crash around the areas meant for smaller children and knock into them. There’s also a Clip and Climb area with 11 different climbing structures which looks brilliant and I’ll be bringing my son along to give it a go when he’s a bit older (climbing starts from 5 years old). And there’s a Ninja Run, an extreme obstacle course with foam pits which looks fun and is for children over 8 years old.

Swimming pool at Feel Better Centre Waltham Forest

I was also lucky enough to have a look around the rest of the centre and there’s so much more going on including a huge gym, fitness studios, a running track and two swimming pools – one a 25 metre pool with dive boards and the second one was a small teaching pool perfect for babies and small children. The real surprise for me was the lovely spa – if you’ve been to one in a gym before they can often feel quite utilitarian but this one actually feels luxurious. Other family-friendly features include a buggy park which is very useful if you’re arriving by public transport, birthday party facilities and a creche for under 5s. You can use the creche for up to 2 hours and it’s included in some membership packages.

Boy jumping on trampolines at Better Extreme, Feel Good Centre Waltham Forest

Overall, I was super impressed with the Feel Good Centre Waltham Forest. I’m surprised more people don’t know about it as it was very quiet in the week. I understand it is busier at weekends and school holidays but if you have pre-schoolers it’s a great place to visit mid-week. The only issues I have are that some of the prices are quite high for a single session. While the Soft Play & Tots Tramp session is £4.65, normal soft play prices  are quite a bit more than others in the area and sessions are limited to 60 minutes which is less time than most as well. If you drive you have to pay for parking (remember to bring change) so that, combined with the entry cost if you’re bringing a few kids, can add up. Also, after visiting the centre and seeing all the great things on offer it seems like the website does not make it easy to see the variety of things you could do. So I’d recommend going down and asking to have a look around. But we’ll definitely be back, my son is desparate to go on the trampolines again and we all want to try out the pool. And I’m just waiting for an opportunity to visit that spa without the kids!

Soft Play & Tots Tramp: Ages 6 months – 5 years

Term Time: Monday & Wednesday 10am-1pm

Summer Holidays (24 July – 31 August) Every week day 10am – 11am

PRICE: £4.65. Trampoline socks £2 (obligatory)

Parking £1 an hour for non-members, members receive a discount and can buy permits.

For more information including prices visit the Better Extreme Website or Feel Good Centre Waltham Forest Website.

We were invited to attend the Better Extreme centre for free in exchange for a review. However, all views are my own and completely honest.

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West Essex Life magazine with West Essex Mums article

Read all about it in West Essex Life

I’m please to say that you can now read my article about the top 5 places to take the kids in West Essex in the June issue of West Essex Life magazine.

West Essex Life magazine with West Essex Mums article

My list includes the Pelican Park in Chigwell, North Weald Airfield, The View at Epping Forest, Ashlyns Farm Park and Play barn and the Gruffalo Trail in Brentwood. West Essex Life is a free magazine so you can usually pick it up in coffee shops.

I’d love to know what you think of my top picks and feel free to share your favourite places to take the kids.

Dr Seuss exhibition at the Discover Story Centre Stratford

What’s on in West Essex for half term: Sat 27 May – Sun 4 June

ALL WEEK

THE FANTASTIC WORLD OF DR SEUSS, DISCOVER STORY CENTRE STRATFORD

Dr Seuss exhibition at the Discover Story Centre Stratford

This family-friendly, interactive exhibition brings the funny and inventive world of Dr. Seuss with story telling sessions, chances to dress up, meet characters and play music with the Boom Band. Children will love seeing characters and props from The Cat in The Hat, Green Eggs and Ham and The Lorax. Entrance is included in your Day Pass for the Discover Story Centre and there’s lots of other things to keep the kids amused from the brilliant Story World to the lovely outdoor playground. There’s a cafe on site and lots of lockers where you can leave buggies and valuables before running around. Check the website for the storyteling sessions which are always great.

All week they will also be running animation workshops with Grace Emily Manning at 10.30-12.30 and 2.30-4.30pm. Suitable for 5 year olds and over you will learn how to create animation with your own character inspired by Dr. Seuss.

Times: Exhibition sessions last about 40 minutes and start at 10:15, 11:15am,12:15, 1:15, 2:15, 3:15 & 4:15pm.
Age: 0-7 years
Tickets & booking info: Included in the price of your Day Pass to Discover (£6.50 per person, £22 family of four).
Address: Discover Children’s Story Centre, 383-387 High Street, Stratford, London E15 4QZ
Further information: Discover Centre website

MONDAY 29 MAY – FRIDAY 2 JUNE

PLACE, HOUSE AND BUILDING, V&A MUSEUM OF CHILDHOOD BETHNAL GREEN

The latest installation ‘Place (Village)’ by Rachel Whiteread provides the inspiration for the lots of half term activities and workshops. These include a print workshop and craft workshop creating little lantern houses

Time: times vary across the week so check the V&A website for details. The museum is open from 10am – 5.45pm
Age: The age varies depending on the workshop and is either 5 years + or 7 years +
Tickets & booking info: prices vary according to activity, details on the website but most are drop-in so no need to book
Address: V&A Museum of Childhood, Cambridge Heath Rd, London E2 9PA
Further information: V&A Museum of Childhood website

BECOME A LITTLE FARMER, BARLEYLANDS

Children can become a little farmer at Barleylands farm. Kids will be able to drive a mini landrover, make butter, bottle feed lambs and have a go at making a scarecrow. They can also learn about caring for different animals.

Time: 10AM – 5PM
Age: All ages
Tickets & booking info: Children £9.90, Adults £10.80, Family ticket £37.80, Under 2s Free. Tickets bookable online.
Address: Barleylands, Barleylands Road, Billericay, Essex, CM11 2UD
Further information: Barleylands website

TUESDAY 30 MAY – 4 JUNE

VICTORIAN DAYS, ROYAL GUNPOWDER MILLS WALTHAM ABBEY

Victorian Days at Royal Gunpowder Mills Waltham Abbey

A series of Victorian themed events for the family including a series of science shows, a chance to make your own Victorian Top Hat, try out Victorian children’s games and visit the Victorian Mad Lab.

Time: 10AM – 5PM (last entry 3PM)
Age: All ages
Tickets & booking info: £8.10 – £10.50 and tickets are bookable via the eventbrite website
Address: Royal Gunpowder Mills, Beaulieu Drive, Waltham Abbey, EN9 1JY
Further information: Royal Gunpowder Mills website

TUESDAY 30 MAY

BEAUTIFUL BIRDS, VALENTINES MANSION ILFORD

A craft workshop where you will create your own bird cage to take home after learning all about the birds who live in the Valentines Mansion and Gardens Aviary. The session includes a visit to see the birds to get some inspiration and find out more about them.

Time: 11.30AM – 12.45PM
Age: 5 years and over
Tickets & booking info: £5 per child, pre-booking essential via Valentine’s Box office
Address: Valentine’s Mansion and Gardens, Emerson Road, Ilford, Essex, IG1 4XA
Further information: Valentine’s Mansion website

PIZZAIOLO CLASS, CORNER KITCHEN FOREST GATE

The perfect way to get your little one into cooking, the Corner Kitchen cafe in Forest Gate is hosting a pizza making class for little people.

Time: 3.30PM – 5PM
Age: 4 -9 years
Tickets & booking info: £15 which includes the cooking class, mini pizza and juice. Book tickets via the Corner Kitchen website
Address: Corner Kitchen, 58 Woodgrange Road, Forest Gate, E7 0QH
Further information: Corner Kitchen website

ANIMAL ADVENTURE, EPPING FOREST

If you want to get your children out into the forest the Suntrap Education Centre is offering the chance to meet the exotic Suntrap animals including a bearded dragon, snakes and fire salamanders lizards. They will also go on an animal adventure in the forest to discover more creatures.

Time: The session is 10AM – 12.30PM but you can stay in the grounds to play and have a picnic lunch if accompanied by an adult.
Age: 5 years and over (under 8s must be accompanied by an adult)
Tickets & booking info: £12 per child. You must book in advance by email or by calling
Address: Suntrap Forest Education Centre, Church Rd, Waltham Abbey, Loughton IG10 4AJ
Further information: Suntrap Forest Education Centre website

WEDNESDAY 31 MAY

LITTLE DUKES, THE DUKE WANSTEAD

This regular session for little ones at The Duke pub will be hosted for half term by  Creative Biscuit, the ceramics cafe in South Woodford. Adults can have lunch or a drink while their little ones paint a bowl, plate or cup. They will be ready a week later after they are glazed and fired at Creative Biscuit.

Time: 12 – 2PM
Tickets & booking info: £6.82 bookable in advance via eventbrite
Address: The Duke, 79 Nightingale Lane, Wanstead, E11 2EY
Further information: Little Dukes event Facebook page

FRIDAY 2 JUNE

PHONICS LEARNING WORKSHOP, SOUTH WOODFORD LIBRARY

A workshop to encourage those who are learning phonics at school. The hour long session will feature fun, phonetical games.

Time: 11AM – MIDDAY
Age: 5-6 years
Tickets & booking info: Free but book in advance at the library
Address: South Woodford Library, 116 High Rd, London E18 2QS
Further information: Redbridge website

Tyranosauraus Rex and triceratops egg at Jurassic Kingdom Osterley Park

Review: Jurassic Kingdom dinosaur exhibition, Osterley Park

Tyranosauraus Rex and triceratops egg at Jurassic Kingdom Osterley Park

“Wow, that’s amazing!” A huge roaring Tyrannosaurus rex greeted us as we arrived at Jurassic Kingdom and the three year old was clearly impressed from the start. The Jurassic Kingdom dinosaur trail is an outdoor exhibition of animatronic and static dinosaurs. There are huge ones towering over you, baby ones hatching out of eggs and hungry-looking ones clawing and fighting each other all along a woodland trail.

Jurassic Kingdom is a touring touring exhibition and we visited it in the first few days at its launch location at the National Trust property of Osterley Park, West London. It will be there until 17th April before touring around the country (see tour locations and dates below).

Osterley House, location of Jurassic Kingdom dinosaur exhibition

They dinosaur models are fairly good; quite realistic and the ones that move usually also have an impressive roar. Our son was a bit frightened by some of the louder roars but he just asked to move away to look at them from a bit of a distance, and he can be a bit overly sensitive. Plenty of children younger then him seemed to be loving it and roaring loudly back! Most of the dinosaurs are roped off and you’re asked not to touch them but there are some smaller ones that you can climb on along the route or dinsaur eggs that you can pose inside for photos. The majority of them – mostly the larger dinosaurs – have signs with details of their names and some information about where they lived and what they ate etc. Personally I think it would have been good if all of them had labels, or at least names, as our son kept asking what they were all called and I’m a bit rubbish at remembering! We were impressed by the amount of dinosaurs he did recognise though and it never ceases to amaze me how little kids, including ours, can remember the really complicated dinosaur names that I can barely pronounce.

There was also an area that I thought was just a sandpit – I steered our son past it quite quickly as I knew he’d want to take his socks and shoes off and I was reluctant as it was a cold day. However, I’ve since read online that it was actually supposed to be a T-Rex excavation pit but it really wasn’t very clear and they could have had some better signage. We probably would have had a go if we had realised.

Pterodactyl or pterosaurs dinosaurs at Jurassic Kingdom, Osterley Park

Along the trail there are woodlands and a den building area as well as some swings to play on, so lots of natural attractions to amuse the kids apart from the dinosaurs. The bluebells are also starting to make an appearance in the woodland and there’s even a nesting swan very close to the path that the children were all intrigued by.

There’s a small marquee labelled as an education area which has a few chairs in and shows a film about dinosaurs if you need a sit down and a rest on the way. There are also a few toilets dotted along the route.

Diplodocus dinosaur at Jurassic Kingdom, Osterley Park

At the way in and out of the trail, along with a virtual reality ride (an extra £5), a merchandise stall and toilets, there are some food vans. Although these were advertised as “mouth-watering street food vans” online it seemed to be fairly standard van food like chips, coffee and sweets so nothing that was very appealing and I was glad we had brought a picnic. Tickets are not cheap when there is a whole family visiting, so we weren’t alone in bringing our own lunch. And unlike some short-sighted attractions, there are no restrictions on bringing your own food which is great. There are a few logs and picnic tables dotted along the trail but it’s probably a good idea to bring a blanket as they were all busy – they could definitely do with a few more. Half way along the trail there were a few more vans selling drinks and churros and, as we love churros, we shelled out an extortionate £6 for a large portion which turned out to be cold and tastelesss so I’d definitely give those a miss. (I know, we’re mugs!)

Dinosaurs fighting, Jurassic Kingdom at Osterley Park

You are asked to specify an hourly entrance time when you purchase tickets and when we arrived at about 11am the trail was very busy. However, it never felt overly crowded and it seemed like there was a steady stream of people arriving throughout the day. Also, nobody seemed to be actively checking our time slot so I think this is more to help stagger visitors rather than something they are really strict about. The trail seemed to appeal to both girls and boys alike with kids of both sexes running around excitedly. (This made me happy as far too often dinosaurs seem to be marketed mostly at boys for some reason.)

Animatronic dinosaurs at Jurassic Kingdom Osterley Park

We spent about three hours doing the trail at a very leisurely pace and with a long stop for our picnic lunch. So you could obviously do it a lot quicker if you needed to or you can stay longer as there is no time limit once you are inside. You could also spend some time looking around Osterly House itself, there’s a National Trust cafe outside the trail if you want something other than the food from vans and the Cadbury Easter egg hunt is taking place in the gardens at the other side of the house. However, our Little One was pretty exhausted by the long walk and the excitement so he was happy to head home full of chat about his favourite dinosaurs.

I’d definitely recommend a visit for any little ones who like dinosaurs and, even for children with only a passing interest, it’s a great way to get the kids out and about in the fresh air enjoying the gardens and woodland.

Diplodocus at Jurassic Kingdom Osterley Park

Parking is provided in fields next to Osterley Park and it is worth noting that the walk to the entrance of Jurassic Kingdom at the side of the house is quite long for little ones and ours was not the only one complaining how far it was. However, it will be no problem for older kids and I just wish we had remembered to bring the buggy board. The whole trail is suitable for prams and is a flat, easy walk.

Jurassic Kingdom will be at Osterley Park until 17th April and then will be embarking on a UK tour.

OPENING TIMES

10am to 6pm (last entry at 5pm). Entry is by hourly time slots but once  inside you can stay as long you wish.

ADDRESS & GETTING THERE

Osterley Park, Jersey Road, Isleworth, Middlesex, TW7 4RB (sat nav TW7 4RD).

There is parking on site which is an extra £7 which I think is pretty steep on top of the cost of tickets – be warned it’s cash only! It took us about an hour and twenty minutes to drive from Woodford Green.

If you want to take public transport the nearest tube is Osterley on the Picadilly line and its only a 1 mile walk away. Isleworth train station is 1½ miles away. You can catch the H28 Hayes to Hounslow to Osterley, or the H91 Hounslow to Hammersmith to within 1 mile.

TICKET PRICES

London:

£13.50 adults online, £15 on the door

£11.50 Child online, £13 on the door (Under threes go free)

£46 Family Ticket, £52 on the door

Prices are cheaper for the rest of the tour at the other locations in the UK!

The Cadbury Easter Egg hunt costs an additional £3.

JURASSIC KINGDOM UK TOUR DATES

Birmingham 20th May – 4th June

Manchester 8th – 23rd July

Blackpool 5th – 13th August

Glasgow 26th August – 10th September

Newcastle 23rd September – 1st October

Leeds 14th – 29th October

MORE INFORMATION

Jurassic Kingdom website

Osterley Park website

baby in ball pit owls play centre

Review: Owls Play Centre Fairlop Waters

I have to admit that I’m a new convert to the charms of Owls Play Centre. For a long time I had avoided it due to some friend’s bad experiences there on a wet, Saturday afternoon – too busy, too noisy and all a bit too much. So we had been going regularly to Ashlyn’s play centre and farm which we love but it’s just that little bit further away. But recently I realised that I should be making up my own mind and I’m so glad we went.

toadstools at Owls Play Centre

The first day we went my 3 year old ran around excitedly for 4 hours straight, barely stopping to sip water and shove in some snacks. Since then he asks me almost every day if we can go to the play centre! Luckily for me, when we first went they were doing a deal on the unlimited annual membership and I signed up there and then. And we’ve been back at least once a week since.

baby playing at Owls Play Centre

 

The first thing to say is that I was braced for it to be super busy and I was surprise by how quiet it’s been most times we’ve been. We have been going on weekday afternoons and after a busy period over lunch time it usually empties out by 1.30/2pm, presumably for nap times. And it gets even quieter still around 3pm when parents head off for the school run and although I had expected it to get busy after school it doesn’t ever get super hectic. So that was my first worry resolved.

Owls Play Centre play equipment

The other great thing is the sheer size of the place, it’s purpose built and so there is loads of play equipment to stop the Little Ones getting bored. There are some big slides in the middle and lots of other little areas, climbing sections, tunnels and rope bridges.

slide at owls play centre

There’s also a really fun machine like a giant hoover which you feed the play balls into and it goes up to the ceiling, then it releases them all after a few minutes to squeals of delight. One of the other aspects that I really like is that they play areas are sectioned off into three.

baby in baby area of owls play centre

A baby area for under threes, a toddler area for under fives and then the main section for under twelves.

Toddler play area at Owls Play Centre

There are lots of tables and a cafe so you can sit and have a coffee and some food while the Little Ones wear themselves out. To be honest, the food is not amazing and is mostly the usual beige kids offerings of chips, nuggets, fish fingers etc. It would be nice to see a bit more healthy food and the coffee wasn’t wonderful but let’s be honest no one is really visiting for the food and drink.

play equipment at Owls Play Centre

There are lots of high chairs, changing stations and mini toilets which makes it easier for pre-schoolers who like to do things on their own! And you can bring buggies in as well.

baby in ball pit owls play centre

PARKING & GETTING TO OWLS PLAY CENTRE

As it’s part of Fairlop Waters Country Park there is plenty of parking but the only downside is the cost and the fact you have to have coins. I’m hoping if they have to update the machines for the new pound coins they might install a pay by phone option – especially as half the machines are always out of order. The prices are £1.30 for 1-2 hours but as most sessions are usually a few hours you’re more likely going to be paying the £3 all day charge. The fact that it is right next to Fairlop Waters does mean that you can make a day of it. The lake is lovely to walk around and there are climbing boulders and logs to climb on all around the lake if you need to wear the Little Ones out even more!

If you’re visiting by public transport it’s only a few minutes walk from Fairlop Waters tube and you can get take bus routes 150 167 169 247 275 462 which all stop at Fullwell Cross, stop A.

ADDRESS: Owls Play Centre, Fairlop Waters, Forest Road, Barkingside, Essex, IG6 3HN

PRICES:

£4.20 Toddler (1-3 years)

£6.40 Junior (Over 4 years)

£1.60 Babies Under 1 year or free if accompanying an older sibling

Free Babies under 6 Months

Accompanying adult £1

Annual Membership: £130 Toddler (1-3 years) or £150 Junior (Over 4 years)

FURTHER INFORMATION: Call 020 8500 9669 or email: owls@vision-rcl.org.uk

Owls Play Centre Website

Find out about other activities at Fairlop Waters Country Park including angling, golf, high rope park and Boulders Park by visiting the Fairlop Waters website.

 

Easter Egg Hunts & Easter Activities in West Essex & London

Yay for Easter – it means Spring is finally here, daffodils are cheering up gardens everywhere and of course you can eat lots of chocolate without feeling guilty. My mum used to hide chocolate eggs all over the house on Easter Sunday and so I love an Easter egg hunt. I’ve been doing them with my little one since he could toddle around the garden but this year I think he’s old enough to enjoy a more adventurous Easter egg hunt. Here are some suggestions for some in West Essex and London as well as other Easter and Springtime activites to do with the children.

MOOMIN ADVENTURES, KEW GARDENS

Moomins at Kew Royal Botanical Gardens

Explore the hidden depths of the Gardens on an interactive trail culminating at the magical Moomin camp in the wild woodland of the Natural Area. Take part in craft workshops while you sample the Moomins’ beloved pancakes and visit the Hemulens’ Herbarium to find out more about your favourite spring flowers and plant conservation.

Originally created in the 1950s, the Moomins are a family of adventurous and nature-loving creatures from the culturally iconic storybooks by Finnish writer and artist Tove Jansson.

In place of the Easter Sunday Easter Egg Hunt, this year we’ll be giving away delicious Lindt chocolate treats at the gates on Easter Sunday.

Dates & times: Saturday 1 – Monday 17 April
Price & tickets: Included in entry fee to Kew Gardens
Address: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3AE
More details: Kew Gardens website

EASTER EGG HUNT, ELMHURST GARDENS SOUTH WOODFORD

Community event run by volunteers with an Easter-themed egg hunt, craft stalls, quiz and story tent with local children’s author. Families are encouraged to bring a picnic.

Dates & times: 8 April, 10.30am – 1pm
Price & tickets: TBC
Address: Elmhurst Gardens, South Woodford, E18 1DR

MAD HATTER’S TEA PARTY, VALENTINES MANSION & GARDENS

Step into the wonderful world of Alice in Wonderland at Valentines Mansion. With interactive outdoor theatre performances, craft activities, childrens rides, activity trails, movie time and much, much more. Suitable for 5 years plus

Dates & times: Sunday 9 April 11am-4pm
Price & tickets: £5 per child (activities included in the ticket price), free entry for under 5s (this does not include participation in some activities). Pre-booking essential. Free for adults (maximum 1 per child). Some activities may be chargeable. Valentines Box Office
Address: Valentine’s Mansion and Gardens, Emerson Road, Ilford, Essex, IG1 4XA
More details:  Valentines Mansion & Gardens website

WOW! SAID THE OWL, STRATFORD CIRCUS ARTS CENTRE

Wow! Said the Owl by Little Angel Theatre at Stratford Circus Arts Centre

Explore the wow-world of colours with this curious little owl who is determined to stay awake to see what day light brings. From the warm pink glow of dawn through to a day filled with the bright colours of green leaves, blue sky, grey clouds and, finally, a stunning rainbow — ‘WOW!’. But despite the beauty of the daytime world, the little owl decides that the night-time stars are the most beautiful of all.

This acclaimed children’s book by award-winning author Tim Hopgood is brought to life with beautiful story-telling, puppetry and music.

Suitable for children ages 2 – 5 years old and duration is 35 minutes.

Dates & times: Thursday 13 – Saturday 15 April 11am & 2pm
Price & tickets:
£8-£10
Address:
Stratford Circus Arts Centre, Theatre Square, Stratford, London, E15 1BX
More Details: Stratford Circus website

EASTER EGG HUNT, EPPING ONGAR RAILWAY

Epping Ongar Railway’s beloved Bertie Bunny will be leading what is probably the longest Easter egg hunt in Essex. Running the length of the railway track, from Ongar through to Coopersale, the distance covered is equivalent to 131,579 eggs placed end to end!

Children will follow clues to find numbered eggs along the railway and will recieve a special Easter treat when they hand in their sheets. The Easter Bunny will be out and about on the stations and aboard some special trains during the day. There’s also face painting and a children’s disco at various times throughout the day at North Weald station.

Dates & times: 14 – 17 April
Price & tickets:
Discounts for advance purchases Adults £13 (on the day £15), Children £7 (on the day £8), Family £34 (on the day £39)
More Details: Epping Ongar Railway website

HAINAULT EASTER NATURE TRAIL, HAINAULT FOREST

Follow the nature trail through Hainault Forest, find clues to answer the puzzle at the end to gain your chocolatey prize.

Dates & times: Saturday 15 April 12 noon – 3pm
Price & tickets:
£2 per child, free for accompanying adults and family. Booking essential.
Address:
Meet at the Common Car Park, IG7 6EZ – opposite Chigwell Primary School
More Details: Woodland Trust website 
centralevents@woodlandtrust.org.uk or call 0330 333 5302

HOPEFIELD FUN DAY & EASTER EGG HUNT, BRENTWOOD

Family fun at Hopefield Animal Sanctuary this Easter with an Easter egg hunt, stalls, inflateables, live music, animal handling and the fantastic Crazy Legs providing the children with fantastic entertainment. Plus you get to see over 400 of their rescued animals.

Dates & times: Sunday 16 April 12noon – 4pm, Easter Egg hunt starts at 1pm
Price & tickets: £5 adults, £4 children and free for Under 3s, Easter Egg hunt is £2 per child
Address: Hopefield Animal Sanctuary, Sawyers Hall Lane, Brentwood, CM15 9BZ
More details: Hopefield Fun Day event on Facebook

EASTER EGG HUNT, COPPED HALL EPPING

Children can see the Easter bunny and join in the Easter egg hunt while adults enjoy the spring flowers. There will be tea/coffee and homemade cakes available until 4.00pm and the gift shop will be open until the same time.

Dates & times: Sunday 16 April 2pm – 4pm
Price & tickets: Entry £5 per person, egg hunt 50p per child
Address: Copped Hall, Crown Hill, Epping CM16 5HS
More details: Copped Hall website

EASTER DUCK HUNT, CHIGWELL MEADOWS

Some of the ducklings from Chigwell Meadows have gone walkabout and there are prizes to be won if you can help to find them.

Dates & times: Monday 17 April 10am-1pm
Price & tickets: £5 donation to Essex Wildlife Trust
Address: The Grange Farm Cebtre, Chigwell, IG7 6DP
More details: Phone 020 8500 3094 or visit the Essex Wildlife Trust website

EASTER EGG HUNT AT OWLS PLAY CENTRE

Search Owls Play Centre and around Fairlop Waters Country Park looking for tokens which can be exchanged for special Easter treats. After the hunt little ones can enjoy the Owls Play Centre.

Dates & times: Monday 17 April The hunt will start at 10am, 12noon, 2pm & 4pm12 noon – 3pm
Price & tickets:
£10 includes Easter Egg Hunt, special Easter treat and 1 hours play in Owls Tickets can be bought in advance from Owls.
Address:
Owls Play Centre, Fairlop Waters, Forest Road, Barkingside, Essex, IG6 3HN
More Details: Owls Play Centre website

EASTER FUN, THE VIEW EPPING FOREST

Easter fun at The View at the Chingford end of Epping Forest. There’s egg decorating, Easter crafts and Easter egg rolling at 2pm. There’s also an Easter trail where you can follow clues along the woodland trail to mee the Easter bunny.

Dates & times: Monday 17 April 1pm – 4pm
Price & tickets:
Free, no booking required. Hard boiled eggs to decorate are £2 each
Address:
The View, 6 Ranger’s Rd, Chingford, London E4 7QH
More Details: City of London website or call 020 73321911

And it’s a bit of a trek over to West London but the JURASSIC KINGDOM dinosaur exhibition at Osterley Park is brilliant and well worth a vist. It’s on until 17th April and you can read my review of Jurassic Kingdom here.

If you fancy an Easter activity at home instead, here’s my recipe for How to make Chocolate Easter Egg nest cakes.

Mini Moments: Farewell Oman

Boy on beach at Muscat Hills Beach Club Oman

After neglecting the blog for a while, I normally start the next post with an apology but frankly this picture will show you why I’m not sorry! I’ve been making the most of maternity leave with an extended holiday to Oman to visit my parents. They will be retiring this Spring after 19 years in this amazing Middle East country and, as they’ve spent most of their married life travelling and working around the world, it’s the longest they have lived anywhere. The Omani people are lovely and the country has worked hard to preserve its rich cultural heritage and stunning landscape. And as you can see from this photo, the beaches aren’t bad either. Obviously they are very sad to be leaving such a beautiful country and I’m gutted that I won’t be heading out there for a dose of winter sunshine each year.

Ma’a as-salaama Oman.